Christian Universities: Will They Obey God or Man?
It’s by design. As I, and others, have repeatedly warned, the establishment of so-called “gay marriage” as a newfangled federal “right,” and the free exercise of religion as guaranteed by the First Amendment simply cannot coexist in harmony. Things diametrically at odds cannot occupy, with any coherence, the same time and space.
The secular left is tripping over itself right now to prove my point. In the wake of last month’s Obergefell v. Hodges opinion — an opinion that somehow divined a top secret “constitutional right” for Patrick Henry to “marry” Henry Patrick — some liberals are now demanding, as both Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito predicted, that Christian universities’ immediately abandon recognition of, and obedience to, God’s unequivocal natural sexual order, and adopt, instead, the new pagan orthodoxy.
In a July 14 article in The Atlantic headlined, “Gay Marriage and the Future of Evangelical Colleges,” University of Tampa professor David R. Wheeler asks, “Now that same-sex couples have the right to wed, will higher-ed institutions that condemn LGBT students still be eligible for federal funding?”
Wheeler is not alone in asking. “As cultural evolution on the issue of LGBT rights continues to accelerate, it’s inevitable that some Americans will start asking hard questions about whether it makes sense to allocate scarce public resources to institutions that are not only anti-gay, but proud of it,” opines Barry Lynn, of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. “For starters, can federally supported educational institutions bar married same-sex couples from living together in student housing? I doubt it,” he adds.
In other words, Christian universities must together embrace and facilitate sin, or lose, at once, both tax-exempt status and access to all students who choose to fund their education via federal loans and grants (which is most of them).
This presents quite a conundrum. It’s also a test. Christian universities must either obey God, disobey man and suffer unsavory temporal consequences, or obey man, sell their souls for mammon and suffer a-little-more-than-unsavory eternal consequence.
This is where faith comes in.
German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a man who faced the gallows for faithfully opposing the Nazi Holocaust. He once wrote, “For faith is only real when there is obedience, never without it, and faith only becomes faith in the act of obedience.”
It’s really not that complicated. The Christian university that chooses the path of least resistance and conforms to the world — that is, disobeys God and adopts the world’s morally relative (read: unbiblical) standards (or lack thereof) on sex and sexuality — immediately becomes at enmity with God. The Christian university that intentionally turns a blind eye to sexual immorality of any kind, or otherwise allows and recognizes sin-based “same-sex marriage,” ceases to be a Christian university and, instead, becomes an apostate university — a university better identified as “Christian in name only.”
As Jesus admonished, “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14).
Indeed, on the question of whether Christian universities will capitulate on sodomy-based “marriage,” the path of least resistance is the broad road that stems from the wide gate and leads to destruction.
By way of example, and to its shame, Baylor University, located in Waco, Texas, has chosen the path of least resistance. This hits especially close to home for me. I was born in Waco and my parents both attended Baylor. Two of my uncles graduated from Baylor Law, and my grandfather, J. Dell Barber, was a Baylor benefactor. In fact, he has a room in the law school named after him and, before he died, set up the Bertha J. Barber memorial scholarship fund in honor of my great grandmother.
Reports Baptist News Global: “Baptist-affiliated Baylor University has quietly removed a ban on ‘homosexual acts’ from its sexual conduct code. …”
“Lori Fogleman, assistant vice president for media communications, said the change is part of an ongoing review ‘to ensure that the university has the necessary policies and processes in place to comply with the many legal and ethical mandates to which universities are subject as institutions.’ She said a review of the sexual conduct policy was contemplated for a couple of years, because officials didn’t believe the language in the old policy ‘reflected Baylor’s caring community.’”
And so, under Baylor University’s new apostasy, it is somehow “caring” to affirm students, faculty and staff in a mortal sin that, in the absence of repentance, will lead them to eternal separation from God — to destruction.
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.
It breaks my heart to be so closely affiliated with a Christian university that has so lost its way.
A colleague of mine once praised yet another for being a person who “applies biblical ethics in ways both faithful and nuanced, both orthodox and relevant.” I’m not exactly sure what that means, but, in my experience, and in the context of biblical exegesis, the term “nuanced” is usually invoked to rationalize some unbiblical behavior or otherwise cave on some fixed biblical principle.
“Nuance” is the bucket of dirt used to muddy crystal clear living waters.
And how does the faithful, Bible-believing Christian remain “both orthodox and relevant”? How can a Christian be both in the world and of the world? To the world, biblical orthodoxy is, in every way imaginable, irrelevant. Biblical orthodoxy represents absolute truth, who is Christ, and the world denies that Truth.
It hates Him in fact.
Pastor Brian Houston, founder of the popular Hillsong movement, recently said, “It can be challenging for churches to stay relevant. … Many mainstream churches upheld what they would believe is the long established view of what the Bible says about homosexuality. But the world has changed around and about them. …
“So the world’s changing and we want to stay relevant as a church,” he continued. “So that’s a vexing thing. You think, ‘How do we not become a pariah?’”
Pastor Houston, respectfully, you have it exactly backwards. We, as Christians, are obliged to become pariahs. We must pick up our cross and follow Christ, the ultimate pariah — the one and only God-man who was such a pariah, in fact, that he was scourged, mocked, spat upon and tortured to death on a tree so that all who are willing to become pariahs right along with him, might have eternal life.
No, to remain faithful, Christian universities must abandon efforts to become “nuanced” and “relevant.”
It’s a fool’s errand.
If Christian universities wish to remain faithful, they must, instead, become pariahs.
They must obey God.
Matt Barber is founder and editor-in chief of BarbWire.com. He is an author, columnist, cultural analyst and an attorney concentrating in constitutional law. Having retired as an undefeated heavyweight professional boxer, Matt has taken his fight from the ring to the culture war. (Follow Matt on Twitter: @jmattbarber).